66 players have opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, including three Chiefs. Yet the Super Bowl Champs have still come out of this situation smelling like roses, at least compared to other teams (looking at you Foxboro.) Here’s why the Chiefs are going to be okay, even with two starters opting out this season.
Damien Williams opted out of the upcoming season after discovering his mother has stage 4 cancer. You can’t fault him for wanting to be there for his mother, who he said had been “the only one there for me my entire life.” That’s a heartwarming decision from RB1.
The thing is, the Chiefs also have an RB 1.5 waiting in the wings in Clyde Edwards-Helaire. A national championship running back who is just as dangerous catching passes out of the backfield as he is running behind the tackles. The Chiefs didn’t take him with their first pick for nothing, the kid can flat out play. We are set up just fine at the running back position.
Edwards-Helaire is set up for a huge rookie season now that he won’t have to share the RB1 duties with Williams, and with his catching ability, he is going to be a favorite target for Mahomes on check-downs out of the backfield. And with his short stature (he is officially listed ay 5-foot-7) he will get lost in the trees in the middle, making it almost impossible for defenses to spot him as he cuts a weaves his way through the line of scrimmage.
Now about that line of scrimmage, the Chiefs had a couple opt-outs there as well.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted to stay in Canada and fight the coronavirus pandemic from the front lines, putting the MD after his name to good use. Truly the noblest of causes for not playing this season. Third-round draft pick offensive lineman Lucas Niang also opted out. This leaves the Chiefs lacking in the depth department with the horses upfront.
LDT was a for sure starter, and Niang was going to see some rotational time at guard and eventually possibly tackle in garbage time situations. These opt-outs did, however, free up cap space (13,003,035 million to be exact) for the Chiefs to bring in some veterans to fill these holes.
One of these veterans is Kelechi Osmele, a former all-pro lineman who had been bitten with the injury bug of late. If Osmele can stay healthy, he could step in and fill the gap left by Duvernay-Tardif, and other additions Mike Remmers and the return of Andrew Wylie could fill the rotational hole left by Niang opting out. And let’s not forget that cap space freed up by these opt-outs; the Chiefs have plenty of room to make a splash in free agency with the lineman that are still available on the market.
The Chiefs are sitting pretty when it comes to how bad things could have gotten. The Patriots, for example, lost eight players to opt-outs. Who knows, maybe Belichick is tanking so he can draft Trevor Lawrence in next year’s draft and just told half his team to stay home this year?
The Chiefs came out winners in a situation that could’ve been much worse, with all the important pieces from a Super Bowl run returning to play this season. We have a lot to be thankful for as the Chiefs Kingdom, 18 of 22 Super Bowl starters returning to play (after opt-outs), and plenty of cap space to make any last-minute moves to shore up any depth issues that may arise through injuries that invariably happen throughout the season. Believe it or not, even with the opt-outs, the Chiefs are the biggest winners this offseason.